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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XIX No. 10, september 1-15, 2009
19th & 20th Century Madras Journals and the Lawrence Asylum Press
‘Pages from History’ by Dr. A. Raman, Charles Sturt University, Orange,
New South Wales, Australia.

The English language Press in Madras had its beginnings with the start of Carnatic Chronicle in 1833. This journal carried articles in English, Tamil, and Telugu, and it discussed local issues of general interest and steered clear of any possible religious controversy. A similar policy lay behind the Native Interpreter founded in 1840. However, in October 1844, the Interpreter was purchased by Gazalu Lakshmanarasu Chetty and got renamed the Crescent. Under the new name it became an advocate of Hinduism. Srinivasa Pillay advocated social reform and organised the Hindu Progressive Improvement Society in November 1852. The Society advocated women’s education, the upliftment of the depressed classes, and widow remarriage. Venkataroylu Naidu, another advocate of reform, founded the Rising Sun in July 1853. The journal discussed social issues. There was little acceptance of Naidu’s ideas, and when he died in 1863 those ideas died with him, including the Rising Sun.

The earliest professional journal in Madras was the Madras Journal of Literature and Science (MJLS) published by the Madras Literary Society (MLS) that had been founded in 1812 and became an auxiliary of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1830; its name turned into the Madras Literary Society and Auxiliary of the Royal Asiatic Society. But, oddly, MLS’s name appeared as the Literary Society of Madras in 1827 and the journal name as the Transactions of the Literary Society of Madras for that year alone. Nonetheless, the MJLS seems to have continued upto 1894 with a reasonable reputation because a listing of different European and North American professional journals cites papers published in the MJLS. Two digitised versions of select volumes provided by Google offer the following details on their respective fly leaves:

Madras Journal of Literature and Science (April-September 1858)edited by the committee of the Madras Literary Society and Auxiliary of the Royal Asiatic Society (Volume IV, Number 7, New Series; Volume XX, Number 46, Old Series). Madras: Printed by Pharoah and Co., Athenaeum Press, Mount Road, 1859.

Madras Journal of Literature and Science (1880) edited by Gustav Oppert, Ph.D. (Professor of Sanskrit, Presidency College, Madras; Telugu Translator to Government; Curator Government Oriental Manuscripts Library; Fellow of the Madras University &c). Published and sold by the Madras Literary Society and Auxiliary of the Royal Asiatic Society, Old College, Nungumbaukum, also sold by Higginbotham & Co., Madras, and Messrs Trübner & Co., London. 1881.

The reverse of the fly leaf includes the following citation ‘Printed by E Keys, Government Press, Madras’.

The Digitised Colonial Documents conserved at the La Trobe University (Asian Studies Program), Melbourne, Australia (http:/www.chaf.lib. latrobe.­ contact. htm) refer to a “… Madras ­Journal of Education published in Madras by the L. A. Press in the 1880s and 1890s”.

An Internet search for information on the Madras Journal of Education led to the site Indian Newspaper Reports, c.1868–1942 (originals archived at the British Library, London, UK; This file supplied the following information, besides notes on many Indian cities of that time, including Madras: There were in production in 1903, throughout the British Raj, nearly 220 journals (newspapers and magazines). The Madras Presidency produced 22 journals in English and in the local languages (Madras-12; Rajamundry-1; Cali­cut-2; Bangalore-3; Tanjore-1; Cocanada [Kakinada-1; Mysore-1; Tellicherry-1). The details pertaining to the 12 journals printed in Madras are provided in the table below.

A search for information on the Lawrence Asylum Press yielded the following information. As a result of the Mysore Wars in the late 18th Century, several children of the European soldiers of East India Company became orphaned. By 1786, the then Madras Governor Sir Archibald Campbell established separate male and female military asylums to protect and educate these orphaned children. Although these asylums were expected to be economically self-sufficient, it did not work so. To tide over the crisis, in the instance of the male asylum, the boys were trained in printing, thus enabling the asylum to make a business out of it. The boys at the asylum were contracted to print Government publications, which provided the asylum with a good income. The asylum issued, every year from 1799, the popular Madras Almanac. In 1871, the Government divested itself of direct responsibility for the male and female asylums to the Lawrence organisation, established in mid-19th Century by R.M. Lawrence. The asylum thus became the Lawrence Asylum Press(L.A. Press). William Henry Moore, who returned to England in 1883, was a superintendent of the L.A. Press.

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It surprises us that The Madras Times and The Madras Mail which were thriving at the time are not listed in the 1904 table referred to below.

Journals published from Madras as on 2 April 1904

Name of the Journal


Frequency Circulated


The Madras Review (English) Quarterly 550
The Indian Review (English)   Monthly 1500
The United India (English)   Weekly  450
The Hindu (English)   Daily 2190
The Madras Standard (English) Quarterly 3000
The Journal of Education (English)   Monthly  350
Vikata Dutan (Tamil) Weekly 1200
Hindu Nesan (Tamil) Bi-weekly 600
Swadesamitran (Tamil)    Daily 800
Messenger of Truth (Telugu)  Monthly  5000
Mukhbir-is-Dhakari               (Urdu)  Weekly 1000
Al-hami (Urdu) Weekly 300

In this issue

Thank you, Chennai
Foundation stones...
19th & 20th Century...
Historic Residences...
Other stories

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for your Diary


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